Last weekend I had the good fortune to get away to Cannon Beach with my friend Deb. Driving down Hwy 101, we stopped in Raymond, Washington for a visit to the Northwest Carriage Museum.
Jerry Bowman, Curator, showed us around. Here he’s noting the features of the Studebaker Stanhope, popular around 1895. The interpretive sign explains: “The Stanhope, or ‘Izzer’ as it was commonly called, became a 19th century favorite. The name ‘Izzer’ was a clever adaptation of a rural colloquialism, ‘izzer’ meaning something that is modern and up-to-date, as opposed to ‘wuzzer’ meaning something that was old fashioned or of the past. ‘Yes sir, I want an Izzer and not a Wuzzer!'”
The Northwest Carriage Museum has samples of European and American coaches and buggies (including examples from famous companies such as Landau and Brewster), wagons, sleighs, and even an elaborately carved hearse. So many features of these vehicles, from the dashboards to the glove compartments to the glistening paint jobs, prove carriages established early nomenclature for the present-day automobile.
As Deb and I went on our way, the serendipitous weekend continued. In Cannon Beach, I found some old German books in Jupiter’s Rare & Used Books. On the drive home, passing through South Bend, Washington, we happened upon Jayden’s German Store, stocked with many varieties of delicious German candies and mouth-watering chocolates.
Here is a photo of my great-great-grandfather’s Harm & Schuster Carriage Works on Champlain St. in Cleveland, Ohio. (Champlain Street was located downtown where the Terminal Tower now stands.) Lined up in front of the shop are signature carriages of the day, of the Phaeton class. Phaetons came in a variety of sizes and suspension systems, designed for pleasure riding and competitive racing. Had you lived in Cleveland in the 1870’s, you might have seen gentlemen the likes of John D. Rockefeller Sr. (of Standard Oil) or Jeptha Wade (of Western Union Telegraph) riding down Euclid Avenue in one of these contraptions.
Here is a fashion plate of the Diamond Phaeton, found in the Coach-Makers’ International Journal (circa 1867), courtesy of the Archives/Library of the Ohio Historical Society in Columbus.
Below is an interpretive sign photographed at the Northwest Carriage Museum in Raymond, Washington, where there is a Spider Phaeton on display.
In a letter written in 1850 from Cleveland, Ohio, Johann Rapparlie described his Smith and Wagon Shop at the corner of Michigan and Seneca, rebuilt after a fire.
I have sure built everything out of brick, with the blacksmith and wagonbuilder work spaces in a building 60 foot long 24 wide 2 ½ stories high. Above are workplaces for the lacquerer and saddlemaker.
At first, my 21st-century mindset had difficulty making sense of the terms “lacquerer and saddlemaker.” A visit to the Northwest Carriage Museum in Raymond, Washington clued me in that a lacquerer was a painter. Paint applications on carriages were finished off with several hard, glossy coats of lacquer, or varnish.
Saddlemaker conjured images of horse saddles, until I realized it was an old-fashioned term for a “trimmer” or “upholsterer.” Here is a picture of some damn fine carriage upholstery, in a C-spring Victoria carriage also on display at the Northwest Carriage Museum.
(double-click on either image to enlarge)